It goes without saying that these are worrying times for everyone. I want to reassure you that myself and my team are still working on behalf of all constituents and if you have anything you want to raise with me please call the office on 01253 490440 or email me via firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter or check out my website, www.catsmith.co.uk.
I’d like to stress that the overall risk to the general public remains low. The vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu.
There are now on-line support groups specifically for people in Fleetwood and Lancaster and our rural areas so please look on Facebook for ways in which you can help or receive help – again if you need more information please call my office. I’d like to put on record how grateful I am to all the staff in the NHS – clinicians, cleaners, porters, the WRVS – all the teams who are going to face some of the toughest times of their working lives.
A number of constituents have contacted me about school arrangements – particularly parents who have chronic respiratory conditions and are concerned about their children bringing the virus home from school.
I’ve been in contact with Lancashire County Council who have advised me that the Department for Education guidance on school absence should be followed.
The advice is that if young people and children should stay at home if they are unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature to avoid spreading infection to others. Otherwise they should attend education or work as normal. Lancashire County Council have advised me that absences for this reason should be classed as authorised.
If a child is not showing symptoms of Covid-19, but has a parent/guardian who is immunosuppressed or a condition that would leave them at a high risk of susceptibility to Covid-19 and the parent or guardian is concerned, then the school should consider authorised absences on a case-by-case basis through conversation with the family.
As this situation progresses, the advice may well change, and so I would urge you to keep up to date by following all of the full advice here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19/guidance-to-educational-settings-about-covid-19.
The Labour Party has had a number of meetings with the Government and we are pushing the Conservatives to adopt a number of measures. Firstly, we want them to extend full sick pay and lost earnings protection from day one for all workers – including insecure workers, low paid workers, and self-employed, during self-isolation and illness. They should raise statutory sick pay in line with amounts in other European countries, introduce rent deferment options and ban evictions of tenants affected by outbreak. The requirement to present for Universal Credit should be removed and they should suspend sanctions and reduce the wait time for first payment down from five weeks as well as support local authorities working with food banks in the purchase and distribution of food stocks.
Please keep an eye out for regular NHS updates here – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/